The neural mechanisms that support working memory (WM) depend on persistent neural activity. Within topographically organized maps of space in dorsal parietal cortex, spatially selective neural activity persists during WM for location. However, to date, the necessity of these topographic subregions of human parietal cortex for WM remains unknown. To test the causal relationship of these areas to WM, we compared the performance of patients with lesions to topographically organized parietal cortex with those of controls on a memory-guided saccade (MGS) task as well as a visually guided saccade (VGS) task. The MGS task allowed us to measure WM precision continuously with great sensitivity, whereas the VGS task allowed us to control for any deficits in general spatial or visuomotor processing. Compared with controls, patients generated memory-guided saccades that were significantly slower and less accurate, whereas visually guided saccades were unaffected. These results provide key missing evidence for the causal role of topographic areas in human parietal cortex for WM, as well as the neural mechanisms supporting WM.
- posterior parietal cortex
- intraparietal sulcus
- working memory
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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